The Brooklyn Nets are just one play-in win away from punching their ticket into the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Following Brooklyn’s most recent win over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, the Nets finished with the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. However, unlike in previous years, a playoff spot for the 7th-seeded Nets isn’t guaranteed. The Nets will have to prevail out of the NBA’s Play-In Tournament. Here’s a quick preview of any possible play-in scenario for the Nets:
Play-In Game 1: Cavs @ Nets
First, Brooklyn will host the 8th-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. The winner of this game will officially clinch a playoff spot and take on the 2nd-seeded Boston Celtics. The Nets and the Cavs both finished with identical 44-38 records. Brooklyn won the season series with Cleveland 3-1, which is why the Cavs will have to travel to Brooklyn to compete in tonight’s game. The Nets have beaten the Cavs in both games at home this season. Additionally, all four games of the season series were within 10 points. While the Nets will enter tonight’s game as 9.5 point favorites, the Cavs have a history of keeping games close with Brooklyn.
However, Cleveland will be without their all-star center, and former Net, Jarrett Allen. Allen is still recovering from a broken finger suffered shortly after the all-star break. Luckily for the Cavs, rookie sensation Evan Mobley is perfectly capable of manning the middle. Additionally, star point guard Darius Garland is proving that he may become an All-NBA level guard someday. Injuries have hurt Cleveland throughout the season, but they are certainly a scary team. In order to beat the Cavs tonight, Brooklyn needs to control the glass and limit Garland. However, without Allen on the court, the Nets are more likely than not to win this game and clinch a playoff berth.
Other Postseason Scenarios
Should the Nets lose to Cleveland, they would host either the Atlanta Hawks or Charlotte Hornets. Brooklyn is 2-1 against the Hawks and 1-2 against Charlotte this season. In fact, Charlotte most recently spoiled Kyrie Irving’s home debut. The stakes for this game will be far higher, as the loser of this game is eliminated from playoff contention. The winner of this game will grab the 8th seed and face off against the 1st-seeded Miami Heat. However, this scenario can be avoided if the Nets take care of business against the Cavaliers.
If the Nets end up playing the Hawks, the key for them is to pick on Trae Young’s defense; tire him out on the defensive end since he carries Atlanta’s entire offense. The Nets will also have to neutralize Clint Capela on the interior and closeout on three-point shooters. Moreover, in a potential matchup against Charlotte, the key for the Nets would be to move the ball and find good shots. The Hornets are one of the most miserable defensive teams in the league, especially in the paint. The Hornets and Nets rank as the bottom two defensive rebounding teams in the league in terms of percentage. This game will likely become a shootout, and when you have Irving and Kevin Durant that’s exactly the type of game you would like to play.